Paul’s story is well documented. He was a killer of Christians and an adamant opponent of their faith (Acts 8:1-3). Later, as a man saved by God’s grace, he constantly urged believers to turn away from their old lives and to press into their new natures in Christ, just as he did. He didn’t harp on rules and regulations, but rather exhorted them to look to Christ for their reason for living. And as a hate-monger transformed into a humble servant, Paul knew the benefit of receiving and offering Christ’s compassion.
Few passages in the New Testament describe the character of Christ as a weapon against Satan’s work as clearly as Ephesians 4:25-32. In this passage, Paul makes a very clear assertion to believers: Christians are freed through the sacrifice of Christ, by the power of the Spirit, to reflect him and deflect Satan.
SPEAK TRUTH (V. 25)
Paul states, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” In short, he is telling his audience to be honest with one another. He does not issue this warning against lying in order to be seen as righteous to outsiders or to prevent themselves from consequences later on; rather, Paul says that Christians should speak the truth because they are one body.
The word for “members” in the Greek, mele, literally means “a bodily organ or limb,” giving the metaphor that Christians are plainly, not just figuratively, connected as flesh and bone members of a body. It is indispensable for believers to understand that, in a sense, they should treat each other how they themselves want to be treated. If a believer lies to a brother, he is simply sinning against every other Christian and, essentially, himself. Paul carries this thought from verse 24 in which he tells believers to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Although Christians will always struggle with Satan’s temptation to speak falsely until the moment of death, they become new creations in Christ with the ability to walk in a manner that reflects the likeness of God himself.
CONTROL ANGER (VV. 26-27)
The passage continues, expanding on the statements made in previous verses, saying, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” These two verses combine to explain that such characteristics belong to the devil and not to God. Anger in and of itself is not a sin when exercised appropriately. Even Christ, who did not sin (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15), was angry (without sinning) as he rebuked the “money-changers” in the temple (Matt. 21:12-13). When Christians act in such a way that they are representing Satan’s lies and not Christ’s model, they are in danger of, or already participating in, sin. Francis Foulkes clarifies, “The Christian must be sure that his anger is that of righteous indignation, and not just an expression of personal provocation or wounded pride. It must have no sinful motives, nor be allowed to lead to sin in any way.”
Christians are a new creation with a new attitude and a new power to overcome the traps of Satan. Given the opportunity to hold a grudge, the Christian must turn away from their anger and forgive immediately. If “the sun goes down” on a person’s anger, it will continually eat them alive, just as Satan has planned. Satan is a powerful trickster, looking for and providing any avenue for a person to give into temptation and give him a place to work. The gospel affords the opportunity to escape such traps.